UK & World News
Online Daters 'Need Protection' From Stalkers
Online dating sites are not doing enough to protect women from being targeted by stalkers and violent men, according to an anti-stalking charity.
Paladin, which was set up two months ago, says it has been contacted by people who have been abused by men after meeting them on the internet.
Lack of regulation has meant those with a violent past have been able to join dating sites.
But a new code of conduct and a kitemarking system is to be introduced to the industry to help boost client confidence.
Laura Richards, from Paladin, is urging more websites to join up to the code.
She said: "I think there's a lot of them that are not taking it seriously enough, currently, and certainly with regards to stalking and other serious offences that may be committed by predatory individuals who are using these sites because they know that there are a pool of victims for them to fish within.
"I think the code of practice is definitely a step forward that the public know there is a standard that has to be met."
Sarah, not her real name, met her former boyfriend on a dating website but was unaware he had two previous convictions for violence.
She said: "He threatened me, followed me, made unwanted contact with me, it was extremely terrifying.
"When I finally left the relationship the harassment continued in an email sense."
Her ex-boyfriend was eventually convicted but Sarah said there was no interest when she initially tried to contact the dating website.
"They supposedly had buttons on there to report an abuser, block an abuser but they are not easy to find, and they generate these automatic responses.
"There was no help or assistance available at a time when I was completely frustrated and panicking about the whole situation."
Recent YouGov surveys show one in five relationships in the UK begin online with around nine million people using dating websites in total.
Figures from consumer website Which? reveal that two in five people using dating sites have discovered fake profiles.
So far 13 online dating sites have signed up to the new Online Dating Association including eHarmony, The Dating Lab, Oasis, Match, My Single Friend, Guardian Soulmates, Love and Friends, Dating Factory, Christian Connection, Muddy Matches, Lovestruck, FreeDating and The Single Solution.